Although this year has seen seasonally adjusted jobless claims drift higher, the indicator is on a four-week-long streak of sequential declines.  The latest reading released this morning fell by 6K to 222K from the downwardly revised number of 228K last week.  In total, claims have now fallen by 30K during that streak of declines and are another 9K below the high of 261K from mid-July.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, claims were up slightly from 173.9K to 175.8K.  Modest increases are the standard for this point of the year as claims have likely put in place their seasonal low before turning higher into year-end. As shown in the first chart below, this week’s reading is historically strong but came up short of the lows for the comparable weeks of 2018 and 2019.

Although initial claims have been improving and came in lower than expectations, the opposite is true for continuing claims. Lagged an additional week to initial claims, seasonally adjusted continuing claims rose to 1.473 million (expectations of 1.438 million) which is the highest level since the start of April.  Unlike initial claims, in spite of recent increases, continuing claims have ample headroom until they reach their pre-COVID range as current levels remain consistent with some of the strongest in over 50 years.  In other words, even though initial claims have found respite and have reversed lower, the opposite is true for continuing claims which is evident through the ratio of the two having taken a sharp turn lower in recent weeks. Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.

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